Were you turned off by the unsavory aspects of Kill-Men of the Rising Sun? Conversely, did you like some of the more serious elements? If you did, I think you’ll like Hitler’s Golden Murder Palace. Like with Kill-Men of the Rising Sun, the humor is more downplayed in Hitler’s Golden Murder Palace. There’s one key difference between Hitler’s Golden Murder Palace and Kill-Men of the Rising Sun. Namely, while the latter relies on high stakes, the former relies on denser characterization, and I’ll explain why.
The Episode Summary
The episode starts in a Nazi casino in North Africa. Hitler is playing a game of baccarat with a man named Gruber, who is later revealed to be a secret agent. Before Gruber can win, Hitler shoots him with a golden Luger, reducing him to a flaming skeleton almost instantly. Danger 5 is thus given their assignment for the episode: find out what has happened to Gruber and what is going on in this casino, and of course, kill Hitler.
The team arrives at the casino, and they split up to complete the mission their way. Since there’s a U-Boat docked nearby, Tucker and Claire go to a lounge bar to try and gain information about the sailors. Dismissing the U-Boat, the other three head straight to the casino. Each group quickly finds themselves caught up in their respective complications. For Tucker and Claire, they get caught up with the crew of the U-Boat, which consists exclusively of coffee-addicted Italian sailors. At the casino, the other three, Jackson and Ilsa in particular, run into Erwin Rommel. Rommel, it turns out, is the man running the casino and Ilsa’s ex-husband.
While the four are preoccupied, Pierre finds out the scheme of the episode through the trail left behind by the late Gruber. Hitler is using the bullion winnings of the casino to create guns made out of solid gold and rearm the German army with the superweapons. Eventually, after a simultaneous submarine infiltration and baccarat game with Hitler, the gang reunites and fails to take down Hitler while stopping the casino scheme.
So if you watched the episode on your own, or you just read my summary, you can see that this episode feels the most like a traditional spy story. You could switch out Jackson with Sean Connery’s James Bond and you wouldn’t miss a beat. Sure, Hitler’s Golden Murder Palace is a much more conventional story than the insanity of Lizard Soldiers of the Third Reich. That said, within the familiarity, we get the best look at Danger 5 as a team, as individuals, and how they have grown throughout the show.
Let’s look at how Danger 5 operates. For a team of international super spies, they sure are a bumbling and chaotic lot. Even with the high stakes of Kill-Men of the Rising Sun, it was primarily Claire and a pre-brainwashed Ilsa who saved the day. The men meanwhile were either brainwashed for most of the episode or off smoking opium. That’s not the case in Hitler’s Golden Murder Palace. Here we get to see that every member of the team is a capable spy of carrying out a mission and worthy of being part of this supposedly elite team.
To see this competency in action, let’s look at the three who went straight to the casino. Jackson essentially Casino Royale’s his way into a personal game with Hitler. Meanwhile, Ilsa uses her past with Rommel to both find out about Gruber and to get into the baccarat game as well. Lastly, Pierre takes the Gruber info and figures out the scheme (for once, he’s the only one to figure it out). Once these three all join up at the baccarat game, they get their best shot at assassinating Hitler.
Meanwhile, Tucker and Claire each demonstrate their spy skills in infiltrating the sub and destroying the shipments of golden guns. For Claire, she quickly and efficiently infiltrates the sub after Tucker gets captured and saves him from the caffeinated Italians, while Tucker destroys the shipments with surprising ease. So, yeah, after some episodes where these spies essentially Forrest Gump their way to success, it’s nice to show that each of them is incredibly capable, even if it’s not as a cohesive unit.
Now as for the individuals, this was an episode for them all to shine. The only exception I’d say is Pierre, and that’s because he’s already been shining brightly throughout the first episodes. So along with their competency as spies, we also see how they have grown in terms of their relationships with each other.
This time, let’s look at Tucker and Claire. I mean, the two are essentially on a pseudo-date when they start at the lounge. This escalates after Tucker is captured. Here we see Claire going out of her way to devise a rescue operation to free him from the macchiato obsessed Italians. I mean, in 2 out of the first 3 episodes, Claire became the team damsel in distress, with Tucker being the one trying to save her. Granted, he reliably arrives after the scheme has started to fall apart aka after Claire gets away. Safe to say, it’s nice to see Claire being the rescuer for a change. It shows that despite the awkward tension between the two, they do care for each other.
Back to the casino group, we see just how much Jackson has fallen for Ilsa over the last few episodes. From their flirty banter in the pre-mission board game to Jackson’s intense jealousy of Rommel that culminates in the baccarat game, a few things are clear. Not only Jackson is love-struck but that Ilsa may or may not be receptive to those feelings. Granted, I know how this romance turns out, but I won’t spoil it for you. It’s quite a dramatic change compared to Tucker and Claire. That said, Jackson’s drive to impress Ilsa brings out the best spy work he has to offer.
I’d like to say a few words about the rest of the elements of the episode, both good and bad. While the humor is downplayed like in Kill-Men of the Rising Sun, I thought more of the gags landed. I mean, how could you not laugh at the fact the Italians drink so much coffee they need a crate delivered every hour? What about when the Italian crew and Danger 5 nearly take down Hitler with finger guns that fire actual bullets? Sure, the plot is fairly straightforward compared to the first two episodes. That said, it has all the requisite Danger 5 wackiness I’ve at least come to love. I mean, the fact that the Nazis are making solid gold weapons that actually work is pulp fiction gold.
For a few flaws, I felt like Hitler took a step back in terms of effectiveness compared to Kill-Men of the Rising Sun. Sure, he works with Rommel in making the gold guns. What brings the whole scheme down though is his arrogance. Namely, deciding the guns are perfect and ordering them into production despite Rommel saying they overheat on auto-fire. Also, Hitler doesn’t seem to recognize Jackson, Ilsa, and Pierre when they’re at the baccarat game. This is especially glaring after immediately recognizing Ilsa and the danger she posed in the previous episode. It’s like the show took one step forward but two steps back in terms of Hitler as a present villain.
So to wrap everything up, Hitler’s Golden Murder Palace is a step up from the problematic Kill-Men of the Rising Sun. It does this through strong character development and solid gags. That said, if you’re looking for the dense mish-mash of pulp fiction and humor found in I Danced for Hitler! and Lizard Soldiers of the Third Reich, you’ll likely be disappointed in the comparative straightforwardness of this episode. Despite my complaints, I liked this episode, and I hope you all enjoy this testament to character growth with a perfect “Fruit N’ Kaman”.
My Recommendation: Recommend
Writer extraordinaire in progress who hangs out with the Chicago Film Scene crew. I screenwrite for my fellow CFS filmmakers. I also write TV and movie reviews, and am a co-host/main writer of the Chicago Film Scene: Live! podcast.